Garbage Bears

A pair of bears, not unlike these two photographed in 2015, has been rummaging through garbage on Warm Springs. If residents keep leaving garbage out, Fish and Game may have to euthanize the animals.

After a large sow and her cub were found pawing through at least four unsecured garbage cans in Warm Springs on Monday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is warning Wood River Valley residents—once again—that leaving trash out can condition black bears to human food sources and result in their euthanasia.

According to a Tuesday Fish and Game press release, Blaine County deputies and a Fish and Game conservation officer monitored the sow and cub early Monday morning and encouraged the pair to leave the neighborhood. By daybreak, both bears had wandered into the surrounding timber, the department said.

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw stressed that every resident is responsible for storing their trash in a garage or locked shed prior to garbage pick-up day.

“These bears necessitate a change in our behavior. We urge all Ketchum residents, especially those in the Warm Springs neighborhoods, to do their part by securing garbage overnight,” he said. “It is our priority to keep our residents and visitors safe and our wildlife wild.”

According to Fish and Game, the cub roaming Warm Springs has been adopting its mother’s negative behavior after watching her rummage through trash.

“If garbage continues to be left out, and these bears are repeatedly rewarded with human-provided food, the department may find it necessary to euthanize both bears if they become a threat to public safety,” the department stated.

Fish and Game officers are urging all Warm Springs residents to follow these five key steps:

  • Keep all household garbage stored in a garage or other secure area.
  • Put out garbage only on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
  • Store strong-smelling leftovers or discarded fish or meat bones in your freezer until the day of garbage pickup.
  • Store attractants like barbecue grills, fire pits, birdseed or pet food where bears can’t access them.
  • Do not hang bird feeders from May until October unless they are placed well out of reach of bears.

To learn more about living safely in bear country, visit https://bearwise.org/bear-safety-tips/keep-bears-out.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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